Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Welcome to the Prairie State

In honor of Prairie State testing, which begins today, I present a post I wrote two years ago on a different blog, one that was meant to be a cross between the Onion and the Daily Show (in other words, this was supposed to be funny):

Standardized test taking deadly toll

CHICAGO (ap) -- Local high school students' chances of attending a prestigious university are about to be squashed as they begin the two-day Prairie State Achievement Examination. Today, juniors around the state are taking the ACT, a standardized test that is a hundred times stronger than heroin and can kill college chances in an instant.

"It's an American tragedy," said Richard Gunn, a photographer and publisher, whose son Tommy's college chances died last year with a disastrous ACT score.

A 19-year-old woman, who has fierce eyes but no future, spoke about her experience last year. She did not pass out during the testing, as some test-takers do, but she knew something was wrong from the moment she sat down with her two sharpened number 2 pencils.

"The most scariest part about it was I couldn't catch my breath," she said. "That lasted a long time."

The ACT, in an overdose situation, seizes muscles at the rib cage, causing instant spasms.

Chicago Public Schools students, with slim chances of finishing college even if they're accepted, are entering today's test undaunted. "Yeah, whatever," said one student, hardened by months of ACT preparation. "If we do well, our school gets off probation. That's all I know about it."

Nationally, the average ACT score is 20.9 on a 36-point scale. In Chicago, the average is 16.7.

CPS teachers are not too concerned about the poor showing by their students. "I've got tenure, so what are they gonna do?" said one teacher who plans to do Sodoku puzzles as she proctors the test.


will shortz said...

Sudoku. Not Sodoku.

Bill said...

It, worse if you teach special ed, because the students get moere time, so we'll be testing through next week. I'm so bored!

middleson said...

You need to clarify that the ACT is required in Illinois which probably has more that a little bit of an impact on your state average being low. In most other states, the students that have no plans to go to college do not take the exam, thereby removing some of what would be the lowest scores from the average.

appopt said...

Middleson is absolutely right. I just didn't think it necessary to get into all the details in a little satirical piece like this. The real joke, I think, is that the state board of ed somehow believes that the ACT is the best measure of our students, that all of them are college bound, that all of our students should be measured against the rest of the country by this test. Don't get me wrong, I try to prepare all my students for college, but let's be honest: College is NOT for everyone. And our economy wouldn't support a 100% college-educated workforce anyway.